Tracheophyta contains the vascular plants i.e. those with a vascular system which conducts water and nutrients. It contains six classes comprising ferns, horsetails and club mosses, and the gymnosperms and the angiosperms. These last two names have now disappeared, as indicated below, though the terms are still used colloquially, and will no doubt continue to be used for years to come as generations of botanists are so familiar with them. Similarly, the terms monocotyledons and dicotyledons are now officially defunct, though they also may remain in use for some time.
Conifers, cycads and ginko (formerly Gymnospermidae) are now in class Pinopsida
Flowering plants (formerly Angiospermidae) are now in class Magnoliopsida
The Magnoliopsida contains two sub-classes:
Liliidae – lilies, Monocotyledonae).
Magnoliidae – the
broad-leaved plants, usually with two seed-leaves (formerly
To take taxa further would consume too much space in this Guidance Note, though it is worth mentioning three families. The rushes are Juncaceae (including the genus Juncus) and the sedges are Cyperaceae (including the genus Carex). Grasses were formerly Gramineae but are now the Poaceae, but as with many such changes the old name may remain in common usage for some time.
For an inexpensive and easy to follow reference to names of plants the reader is referred to Collins Pocket Guide to Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe (New Edition) by Fitter, Fitter and Blamey published in paperback in 1996 by Harper Collins. This lists plants under headings giving the English family name, followed by the current Latin name, and with the obsolete name in brackets e.g. Mint Family, Lamiaceae (Labiatae). The names of British plants in this popular wild flower guide are those used in the New Flora of the British Isles (2nd edition 1997) by Clive Stace, and D H Kent’s List of Vascular Plants in the British Isles (1992).
For grasses the standard popular work has been Grasses by C E Hubbard, published in paperback by Pelican, and still available. It has been around since 1954 and has been reprinted many times. Collins publish a Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of Britain and Northern Europe by Fitter, Fitter and Farrer. Both of these books were last reprinted in 1984. They may not be taxonomically up to date, but the common and Latin names of the species covered have not changed greatly since publication. Grasses are also included in Stace and grass specialists can refer to this flora for the latest in grass taxonomy.
Recent changes in fungal taxonomy
Fungi have been less well studied than plants and in consequence fungal taxonomy is much less stable. With much current research at the DNA level we can anticipate yet more changes as it seems that many of the familiar macroscopic structures have evolved several times so do not indicate a relationship. The taxonomic hierarchy to the level of class is given below. For the complete and up to date taxonomic structure reference should be made to the 9th edition of Ainsworth and Bisby’s Dictionary of the Fungi published in 2001. It can be obtained by